Budget, What matters for?
Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed
The up coming budget will be passed by the Parliament at the end of June 2017. Budget, What matters for? Is budget size or fiscal year a matter? Today’s Bangladesh is a country of emerging economy. So, its budget size is not a factor. But how it is handled or implemented, this matters. Fiscal year, the other side, again is a matter to some experts or analysts. So fiscal year may be changed as a test case.
In every year, budget is forecast with aims to promote growth rate, equal distribution of wealth, to reduce money inflation, poverty allevition, income generation, employment creation etc. But our budget is very much traditional. No structural or reformative change is yet to be excercised and taken place. To make budget pro-people, it is to be decentralised. As for example, in every district one crop bank may be established. For farmers, there may be the provision of crop insurance, speacial allocation for the down-trodden people and the disaster victim people. The life style of the tribal people may be upgraded by special grants through budget. To upgrade the marginal farmers, there remains the necesity of subsidies for agricultral imputs.
For top most service sectors, special budget allocation is a required. Again agricultural and education research, training sector, special safety net, communication, public health, trades, commerce, industry all above mentioned sectors need to be prioritised in budget allocation. We are responsible to create value for the business community and we are also responsible to the society. But it is assessed that our primary responsibility is to create a value, and to create value ethically. We know there are many examples that businesses can make profit by doing business ethically. Unfortunately these examples, in most cases, remain less visible. Somehow we see wrong impression expressed in media. So, today the key word is everybody’s sustainability (sustainability of businesses). A sense of complacency developed among us over the 6 percent economic growth in the past few years. But we think 6 percent growth is not enough, it is not even close to enough. We need to have 8-10 percent growth. The entire world is facing a single crisis – lack of adequate employment generation. To create job we need investment and further growth. If we come back to budget, we always hope that the budget will be Business-friendly and pro-investment ones. Traditionally our budget has been very revenue-oriented. This time, we may again see the same focus. If we want to attract more investment, whether it is local or foreign, we need to make sure that there will be returns. And the returns will come from profitability. The key factor behind profitability is cost of doing business. If cost of doing business gradually increases only and the profitability and returns come down. We need to be realistic. Investment flow will increase if the returns are attractive compared to risks. In terms of risk, Bangladesh has made tremendous progress. Our political environment is almost stable of which there are advantages and disadvantages. What we do not say is that Bangladesh is not the easiest place to make profit ethically. There is high bank interest rate. Spread (difference between lending and deposit interest rates) is ridiculously high. Land is too much expensive. There is lack of adequate logistic supports. And those who are trying to do business ethically and trying to be compliant, their costs of doing business are increasing.
We want to reiterate that our efforts and endeavors in ensuring professionalism, transparency and accountability will be tireless. We once again vow to uphold ethical values at any cost. Accountancy projects a clear picture on country’s fiscal activities and assists in ensuring corporate good governance. Accountancy is essential for banks, insurance companies, securities, dealers and others who need them. As trade and commerce of the country increases, so does the responsibility of the accountants. In the financial sector of our country, ICAB has a major role to play. Rightly so the institute is pro-active in creating awareness, generating ideas and thoughts, promoting transparency and accountability not only in its own area but also in overall economic affairs of the country. We believe we have been able to bond good ties with all related Government, autonomous or regulatory bodies. We are in touch with NBR, Bangladesh Bank, BSEC, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce, LGRD and others. We are ready to work with them in any matter related to training or for the cause of national interests.
Every year budget comes, budget goes. Budget should speak the good of the common people. Budget must reflect the interest of the have nots, education for all, to reduce discrimination of the poor and the rich. If the poor become poorer with the systamatic problem of the budget, the soundness of the budget will be lost. Again budget will lose its dignity and identity of glamour. Benifit must go to the court of commoners. Budget must have its vision. It must widen the quality of lives. General livelihood might be enhanced. It can’t be invisible. It must not be kept in papers or limited to four walls. It must be made target oriented with group of skilled manpower & experts. Its implementation must be made honest and transparent with good leadership, coordination and planning.
We have seen problems in the areas of quality, implementation and predictability. We must demonstrate there are adequate efforts to improve governance – law and order, financial sector, specially state-owned banks. We have said this publicly that they should be shut down. If there is strong political will, governance will be improved. Investment will continue to increase if effective measures are taken to reduce the cost of doing business. We have huge bank reserve. This reserve can be deployed more efficiently and effectively. Huge investment is being done for RMG sector’s remediation. This sector can be supported through a special fund. It will help make our economy a jump start. We need coordination between fiscal measures and monetary measures. We hope to get back momentum in the up-coming budget. To cash in the advantage, we must boost coordination and efficiency at all levels.
In the implementation stage, there should be a throughly monitoring and supervision. After that it is to be evaluated with its repeated exercise. Again all ADP budget should be well examined, scrutinised, investigated properly by a panel of experts. Finally budget execution must be maintained with proper discipline, sincerity, top most honesty and purity. Budget should not be declared as a govt. budget. It must be reflected as peoples’ budget. No pilferage should be allowed to direct it in a bad shape. If there is strong coordination, good governance and capability to manage a budget will appear befitting and can reach its goal with its efficient management. And in the long run, budget will be result oriented.
Deputy Director General & Commandant (PRL), Ansar-VDP Academy, Safipur, Gazipur.